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Thomas Fleming

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Dr. Thomas Fleming is the editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture and president of The Rockford Institute. He is the author of several books, including The Morality of Everyday Life.

  • Political Passion, Part I

    By Thomas Fleming | April 18, 2014
    Instead of Philbrick's three merely political identities ("I Led Three Lives: Citizen, "Communist," Counterspy"), we might describe ourselves as: Christian, "Conservative," and Counterrevolutionary.
  • Defending the Family Castle, Part IV: The End

    By Thomas Fleming | April 04, 2014
    Eminent Domain confiscations are a direct threat to private property but perhaps even more sinister are the flagrant violations of the 4th Amendment that Americans have grown to tolerate, much as the English learned to tolerate general writs.
  • Defending the Family Castle, Part III

    By Thomas Fleming | March 31, 2014
    The English/American household was more than a fortified building with locks and bars to keep out unwanted intruders: It was also an autonomous community, whose existence antedated the state.
  • Defending the Family Castle, Part II

    By Thomas Fleming | March 26, 2014
    It was the invasion of property more than the taxes and confiscations themselves that annoyed the Americans and prepared them to resist the Stamp Act. It was not money per se, but the sacred rights of property that were at stake.
  • Defending the Family Castle, Part I

    By Thomas Fleming | March 24, 2014
    Everyone has heard the expression: "An Englishman's home is his castle." The most memorable expression of this proverb was given by the elder William Pitt, the future Lord Chatham.
  • The Immoral Principle of Territorial Integrity

    By Thomas Fleming | March 07, 2014
    The Crimean parliament decision to hold a referendum on whether or not to join the Russian Federation has raised the question of the legality and morality of secession.
  • Lincoln's Slaves

    By Thomas Fleming | February 26, 2014
    A West Hollywood "Gay" Bar has announced it will not serve California legislators who stand up to the LGBT lobby's demands. Bar owner David Cooley defended his no-entry list.
  • Kansas Bleeds Again

    By Thomas Fleming | February 19, 2014
    The politically correct are breathing a sigh of relief. A proposed piece of Kansas legislation that would permit businesses not to provide services to same-sex "married" couples has been pronounced "dead in the water."
  • What Goes Around Comes Around

    By Thomas Fleming | February 14, 2014
    In the Netherlands, Els Borst has been found dead in her garage. A few hours earlier, the 81 year old physician and former deputy prime minister had attended a meeting of what is described by the Telegraph as her center-right political party.
  • Barry O. and Franky H. Cozy Up With a Few Friends

    By Thomas Fleming | February 12, 2014
    Some Americans are wondering, "Why all the hoopla over Hollande's courtesy call on Obama?" Is there something sinister or even serious going on? The obvious answer—and even some journalists are aware of it—is the natural affinity of two Marxist political hacks.
  • Jiggity Jig

    By Thomas Fleming | February 10, 2014
    After 17 hours of travel--from the Hotel Atlantic Palace in Florence to the airport, from Florence airport to Zurich, Zurich to Chicago--the machines plus the foreigners herding the cattle were an unpleasant reminder that we were returning not to the land of the free or home of the brave but to "the first universal nation," where anyone who gets off the boat with 100 words of English can expect to go on the dole as a Federal employee empowered to push the natives around.
  • All the News From Tuscany

    By Thomas Fleming | January 31, 2014
  • Eternal Youth

    By Thomas Fleming | January 30, 2014
    Outsider movements attract a sprinkling of talented idealists but fill the ranks with losers who would happily join the left, if only the left would have them.
  • Obama's One Cheap Trick

    By Thomas Fleming | January 30, 2014
    The purpose of political parties is to gain power by winning elections. Once in power, they have greater opportunities to enrich themselves and their friends at the expense of the taxpayer. If there is another purpose to democratic elections, no one I know of has ever demonstrated it.
  • The Road to Rome--and Back

    By Thomas Fleming | January 28, 2014
    Tripadvisor and Yelp epitomize all that is wrong with democracy.
  • Music--and Again Muslims

    By Thomas Fleming | January 15, 2014
    Pisa's wars with the Muslims were conducted by individual admirals and trading consortiums rather than by the city itself, but they were not haphazard expeditions in search of booty. The Pisans, though working as entrepreneurs, were single-mindedly working to drive the Muslims out of Christian Europe.
  • America: Nation of Transients

    By Thomas Fleming | January 15, 2014
    Read Part 2 of the English version of Thomas Fleming's interview with the Serbian magazine Geopolitika, on the decline of America.
  • America: A Growing Servility

    By Thomas Fleming | January 13, 2014
    Read Part 1 of the English version of Thomas Fleming's interview with the Serbian magazine Geopolitika, on the decline of America.
  • Muslims, Mussels, and the Duomo

    By Thomas Fleming | January 10, 2014
    Perhaps I'll find occasion to talk about the duomo later--by the way the word has nothing to do with our word "dome": but comes from Latin Domus, as in Domus Dei, house of God--but at this point let us be content with the bold statement that since the Fall of Western Empire, this was the most ambitious--and beautiful--church to be constructed. The Pisans seem to have begun planning it in 1063, the year they sailed off to support the Normans, who were reconquering Sicily from the Saracens.
  • The Grit, the Grime, and the Glory

    By Thomas Fleming | January 08, 2014
    Why do I prefer unrestored broken down cities to Rockefellerized fantasies like Williamsburg or that painted ugly delusion known as Southern California? Partly it is because the object of restoration, as my late friend Thomas Molnar once wrote, is to wipe out the intervening centuries, between the time a work of art or building was finished and the present. In the case of some masterpieces, the attempt is reasonable, but restorations are often flops...
  • In Pisa at Last

    By Thomas Fleming | January 06, 2014
    I have always found the Arno beautiful, looking upstream from the Ponte Solferino. For years, I thought that this was my own secret, how beautifully the river curved, until I read Leopardi's famous remark.
  • A Few Days in Florence

    By Thomas Fleming | January 04, 2014
    The trip to Florence took a long and unpleasant day. It was cold the day we left, and there was so much snow it required a bit of nerve just to drive to my office to pick up a few things I had forgotten. We caught the bus to O'Hare an hour earlier than we should have needed, and in the event, we should have missed the plane had we allowed only a normal time for the ride.
  • January in Tuscany

    By Thomas Fleming | December 31, 2013
    I am going to be posting comments and photos over the next month, and when I have nothing to say--as I do today, the day before we are leaving--I can insert some paragraphs from the little history of Pisa I prepared for our fellow-travelers.
  • Pope Francis and the Liberal Delusions II

    By Thomas Fleming | December 30, 2013
    According to one interpretation of the scene, Judas went away from this encounter disgruntled with Jesus' failure to lead a social revolution. It is certainly true that Jesus' answer remains a powerful rebuke to those who would confound the gospel with one or another form of state-imposed socialism.
  • Pope Francis and the Liberal Delusions

    By Thomas Fleming | December 26, 2013
    Christians are supposed to follow the teachings of their Master, who firmly informed the Roman authorities he was accused of challenging, "My kingdom is not of this world." That should have been the final world on both Christian socialism and Christian democracy.
  • Nelson Mandela, RIP or RIH?

    By Thomas Fleming | December 06, 2013
    The South African economy is in ruins, the rule of law has so broken down that Johannesburg is recording murder rates several times the rate in Mexico City, and young black professionals are leaving in droves. Interviewed even on NPR, they explain there is no future for them in South Africa.
  • Oh Well, Life's Not All Bad...

    By Thomas Fleming | November 21, 2013
    What a week it has been for the ambulance-chasing media! Anticipated highs in their schedule were anniversaries of the Gettysburg address and the Kennedy assassination. What that pair really should be remembered for are cheap rhetoric to camouflage mass murder and cheap idealism to camouflage not just the libido dominandi but plain old raw libido.
  • Obamacare: Marxism not Charity, the conclusion

    By Thomas Fleming | November 12, 2013
    As important as our civic duties are or can or should be, our moral life we have a higher duty, comprehended in that one word charity (agape). The Greeks had another word, philia, which means, very roughly, friendship, though the first friends a Greek probably thought of when he heard this word were family members.
  • Obamacare: Charity or Marxism, II

    By Thomas Fleming | November 07, 2013
    Later in the course or his ministry, He will condemn the legalistic conformists--"scribes, pharisees--actors"--as whited sepulchers: They are painted prettily enough on the outside, but within there is nothing but death and putrefaction. But any attempt to create or impose a semblance of the Christian moral order on non-Christians must suffer the same condemnation. A socialist experiment on unwilling subjects turns entire nations into whited sepulchers.
  • Obamacare: Charity or Marxism? I

    By Thomas Fleming | November 06, 2013
    Like most Americans (including the President and members of Congress), I have made up my mind about Obamacare without actually reading the document(s). For me, there is basically one question to answer: Is Obamacare an exercise in state charity aimed at relieving the necessities of the poor, or is it a Marxist-inspired experiment in state socialism? Even though we have good reason to oppose both alternatives, we have to recognize them as different in motivation and in results.
  • Women and Children First

    By Thomas Fleming | October 29, 2013
    A Federal judge in Austin (Lee Yeakel--or is it yokel) has struck down provisions in Texas' new abortion law requiring abortionists to have hospital privileges within 30 miles of their murder site.
  • All Liars Ain't Spiers but All Spiers is Liars

    By Thomas Fleming | October 28, 2013
    Caught red-handed spying on the private life of Angela Merkel, the Obama administration and its supporters in both parties have chanted the same responses: "Allies always spy on each other," and "our monitoring activities in Europe have thwarted terrorist attacks." True enough, but as everyone knows, politicians only tell the truth when it serves a lie.
  • Christian Punishment

    By Thomas Fleming | September 13, 2013
    There is a case to be made against the death penalty, but it is rooted in non-Christian and anti-Christian theories of the human person. There is no Christian and, in particular, no Catholic argument to be made except by a round-robins-barn tortured exegesis of passages ripped out of context.
  • Liar's War

    By Thomas Fleming | September 11, 2013
    John Kerry has pinned his case for killing Syrian civilians on an op ed in the Wall Street Journal, written by "Dr. Elizabeth O'Bagy," a 20-something researcher who turns out to be a propagandist for the Syrian opposition without the sacred Ph.D from Georgetown that got her a job at a propaganda mill masquerading as a think tank.
  • Six Paragraphs In Search of an Author

    By Thomas Fleming | August 30, 2013
    Everyone I know is asking me why we are going to bomb Syria. There is a rarely a simple answer to such questions, but if we look closely at the would-be bombers--the leaders of Turkey and France for example, perhaps we can gain some insight. The latest coalition of the willing might be more accurately described as the conspiracy to kill Christians. Erdogan and his party have two reasons for hating the Assad regime.
  • Lincoln and the Chelsea Girl

    By Thomas Fleming | August 23, 2013
    Chelsea, otherwise known as Bradley Manning, has petitioned the US Army to give him transgender procedures that will enable him to spend his 35 years pretending to be a woman in a woman's prison. Apart from the surgeries and hormone therapy involved, it sounds like a great idea.
  • Boredom in the Leisure Class

    By Thomas Fleming | August 21, 2013
    In Duncan Oklahoma, two black "teens," driven by a white teen driver, murdered a complete stranger--an Australian student and baseball player. The only motive given so far is that they were bored. Since the victim was white and at least one of the three a devotee of the racist thug doggerel known as rap, there may have been other motives, but let us take the statement, given to the police by one of the thugs, at face value.
  • Voting Wrongs

    By Thomas Fleming | August 15, 2013
    If politics is ever going to matter in this country, the conservatives will have to set one initial and all-important priority: They have to take away the vote from people who are not really citizens.
  • Obama Saves America Again

    By Thomas Fleming | August 05, 2013
    The Obama administration, citing an ominous increase in online chatter in the terrorist community, has closed down 19 diplomatic posts in Muslim countries, and this morning (5 August) the State Department revealed that they will stay closed because of the continuing threat.
  • What Is To Be Done About "Gay Marriage"?

    By Thomas Fleming | July 31, 2013
    Where power can be shifted from Washington to the states, from the states to the counties and cities, from cities to neighborhoods and families, then that is the policy to support. That was the deal I cut with Rothbard years ago. The only progress is devolution.
  • Gay Times on the Right

    By Thomas Fleming | July 29, 2013
    Hardly a day goes by that someone does not email or telephone me with the news that some allegedly conservative writer has finally endorsed "Gay Marriage." I'd rather not name names, but the most amusing so far has been an online screed declaring Andrew Sullivan the "most important political writer of his generation."
  • Egypt: The Script Plays Out

    By Thomas Fleming | July 03, 2013
    It is almost as if Mohammed Morsi has been reading Chronicles--or at least studying Egyptian history. (And if he fails—as I hope he does--to take decisive action, he will soon be an unimportant piece of that history.)
  • Egypt--Playing By the Rules

    By Thomas Fleming | July 01, 2013
    It is almost as if Mohammed Morsi has been reading Chronicles--or at least studying Egyptian history. (And if he fails--as I hope he does--to take decisive action, he will soon be an unimportant piece of that history.)
  • Liars, Children, and the NSA

    By Thomas Fleming | June 19, 2013
    Yesterday's congressional performances by the head of the National Security Administration and the deputy director of the FBI deserve an award, but it is the KIDS awards handed out for best children's TV programs. Even an American adolescent should be able to spot the lies and contradictions.
  • USA Against America: Arming Jihad

    By Thomas Fleming | June 17, 2013
    Living in America these days is something like being a character in a Philip K. Dick novel: Instead of learning from our mistakes and moving on, our leaders continue to hit the replay button, over and over and over.
  • Treason From the Top Down

    By Thomas Fleming | May 29, 2013
    French police have arrested a suspect in the knife attack on a French soldier. The suspect is 22 year old male "fairly recently converted to Islam." The attack in a Paris suburb recalls the recent beheading of an English soldier in the London suburb of Woolwich, where the attacker, again, appears to have been a recent convert to Islam.
  • Boys Will Be Toys

    By Thomas Fleming | May 24, 2013
    Only in America. Only in America could religious conservatives get worked up over the Boy Scouts' decision to admit openly homosexual boys to their ranks.
  • I Need to Take a Fifth

    By Thomas Fleming | May 22, 2013
    If we lived in a real (not to say free) country, then we would be reading something like the following exchanges: Congressman Issa: So, Ms Lerner, how and when exactly did you learn that your department was illegally targeting conservative and pro-life groups.
  • After the Fall

    By Thomas Fleming | May 16, 2013
    Obama administration officials have convenient ways of evading responsibility. Hilary made her getaway before some of the truth about Benghazi began to ooze out from the cracks, and Holder not only has recused himself from the investigation of the AP story but he blames subordinates for all his woes.
  • Ella, again

    By Thomas Fleming | May 01, 2013
    Let me second Tom Piatak.
  • Chechen Surprise

    By Thomas Fleming | April 19, 2013
    Last night's shoot-out in Boston must have brought as much joy to the Kremlin as it has dampened the spirits of the White House. Thrilled with the announcement that the primary suspects in the Boston Marathon Massacre were white, anti-American leftists were hoping for the big score, another Tim McVeigh to prove that Tea Partiers and Militiamen are violent terrorists.
  • Conservatives Back Gay Marriage

    By Thomas Fleming | March 28, 2013
    A great deal of ink is being spilled on the two Supreme Court cases taking up same-sex marriage, but the effect is rather like the ink released by a cuttlefish to cloud the vision of its enemies. To anticipate my conclusion, let me go on record as saying that family-values conservatives have done vastly more harm than good. Their arguments and policies lead only to one end: the nationalization of marriage and the family. Why does the left always win?
  • The Cowboys and Wyatt Earp

    By Thomas Fleming | March 26, 2013
    “The Cowboys” was not a term of respect or even a neutral term for ranch hands, who were known then as herders. Cowboys were wild men, none too careful—it was alleged—whose horse they rode or whose cattle they sold. They were certainly dangerous customers, too fond of their liquor and much too prone to shooting off guns in saloons, theaters, and even in church.
  • RSO: Antidote to Rockford's Misery

    By Thomas Fleming | March 25, 2013
    On Saturday night, my wife and I were guests of our friends Jim and Betsy Easton, at a performance of Handel's Messiah. The concert was a joint production of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and the Mendelssohn Club chorus.
  • Immer Drummer

    By Thomas Fleming | March 22, 2013
    Just when I was beginning to think the neoconservatives had reached the nadir of ignorance with people like Jonah Goldberg and David Frum, along comes Harvard grad Bill Kristol to flaunt his ignorance.
  • Unpatriotic Liars

    By Thomas Fleming | March 20, 2013
    Here is poor David Frum pretending to have second thoughts about the Iraq War for which he shilled.
  • Wyatt Earp Turns 165

    By Thomas Fleming | March 19, 2013
    Wyatt Earp, saloonkeeper, professional gambler, profligate, and alleged procurer of women, was for all his faults a great American hero.
  • Back to the Stone Age III: Natural Men C—Women and Men

    By Thomas Fleming | March 01, 2013
    I said at the beginning that man is a mammalian species. From this one simple fact flow many important consequences for the human race. As the word mammal indicates, our females nurse their young, which requires diversification of the roles played by males and females, but even those words males and females tell us something.
  • No Left-Wing Christians

    By Thomas Fleming | March 01, 2013
    Does the Left-Wing Christian really exist? I think not, if we mean someone who equates leftism with Christianity.
  • Back to the Stone Age III: Natural Men A

    By Thomas Fleming | February 21, 2013
    I have been arguing for decades that any conservative point of view, to be usable or even defensible, has to be grounded in an understanding of human nature derived from observation of man's nature and history.
  • Back to the Stone Age II E

    By Thomas Fleming | January 09, 2013
    What is the alternative to respect for responsible authority?
  • Christmas: Some Caveats

    By Thomas Fleming | December 20, 2012
    I endorse enthusiastically my friend and colleague Tom Piatak's defense of Christmas. As a curmudgeon, however, I am inclined, this time of year, to gloomy reflections.
  • Back to the Stone Age II G: A Trip to Alsatia

    By Thomas Fleming | December 17, 2012
    Classical liberals like to complain about federal subsidies to agriculture. They are quite right to denounce programs whose effect is to reward agribusiness while harming smaller farming operations, as if it were the government's business to pick the winners in advance. But they are equally opposed to European countries like France that protect farming as an essential part of the nation's culture
  • Kerry Dancing

    By Thomas Fleming | December 17, 2012
    I do hope someone will remember that I suggested that the threatened nomination of Susan Rice might have been a trick to lure gullible Republicans (a redundant expression) into breathing a sigh of relief when she withdrew.
  • Back to the Stone Age II F

    By Thomas Fleming | December 12, 2012
    Property is the broadest term and the one most likely to be misused. In English, we can use property to refer to everything we possess, including our personal characteristics, or more narrowly as the things we own, such s real estate, or to the more abstract notion promoted by Locke, that as human beings we have a right to property, along side our rights to life and liberty.
  • Rice: The Evil of Two Lessers

    By Thomas Fleming | December 06, 2012
    Even before Barack Obama's second inauguration, the impending retirement of Hilary Clinton is providing Republicans with their first opportunity to challenge the President. It appears to be no secret that the shortlist of candidates the President is considering for his next Secretary of State includes John Kerry and Susan Rice.
  • Back to the Stone Age II D: Capitalism

    By Thomas Fleming | November 13, 2012
    It is conventional to refer to the great tycoons of our own and earlier times as capitalists.
  • Back to the Stone Age IIC

    By Thomas Fleming | October 29, 2012
    Advocates of capitalism write as if there were some natural or divine force known as "the market." There is no such thing.
  • Back to the Stone Age IIB

    By Thomas Fleming | October 23, 2012
    Part and parcel of the counter-factual theory of natural liberty is the myth of the individual.
  • Back to the Stone Age II A: The Price of Freedom

    By Thomas Fleming | October 19, 2012
    Classical Liberalism and its stepchildren—socialism and libertarianism—are founded on error, and no error of the liberals is more manifest than their credulous faith in individual liberty.
  • Back to the Stone Age I: One Last Addendum

    By Thomas Fleming | October 18, 2012
    To be consistent and coherent we have to go back to our basic understanding of the human male. What do most men want, once they have satisfied basic necessities?
  • Back to the Stone Age I: Conclusion

    By Thomas Fleming | October 15, 2012
    As Americans we owe much of what we are to the ancient, Medieval, and post-Renaissance Europeans who proceeded us. Nonetheless, we are not simply generic Europeans. We have our own peculiar traditions, some of which go back to Britain or even to the Anglo-Saxons, while others are more uniquely American.
  • Back to the Stone Age I: Addendum

    By Thomas Fleming | October 11, 2012
    Most conservative movements and initiatives fail and fail badly...
  • Poems of the Week

    By Thomas Fleming | October 10, 2012
    Poem of the week.
  • Back to the Stone Age I D 2: Progressive Regression

    By Thomas Fleming | October 08, 2012
    There is nothing irrational about accepting the moral, political, and cultural traditions that have been handed down to us as part of the conditions of life in the European-American world.
  • Back to the Stone Age I D

    By Thomas Fleming | October 03, 2012
    Skeptical of propaganda and the sentimentalism of human rights and progress, palaeoconservatives might be attacked for their cold-blooded rationality.
  • Back to the Stone Age IC

    By Thomas Fleming | October 01, 2012
    Any genuine palaeoconservative has a keen eye and a hard head. He is an observer of human nature, whether he has studied the subject scientifically or not.
  • Romney's Last Chance

    By Thomas Fleming | October 01, 2012
    If we can believe most pollsters, President Obama has the election sewn up and in the bag.
  • Back to the Stone Age, I B

    By Thomas Fleming | September 27, 2012
    That afternoon, as Paul and I were gassing on about the evil neocons, one of us said something like, "If they are neoonservatives, what are we then, paleolithic conservatives or palaeocons?" In my recollection, I was the first to utter the word, though I believe Paul also claims credit. I won't dispute the point. It hardly matters.
  • Back to the Stone Age: a Primer for Palaeoconservatives 1

    By Thomas Fleming | September 26, 2012
    I have never been very good with dates, but it was some time in the mid 1980's. Paul Gottfried, who was teaching at Rockford College, had come to my office, and we were discussing, as was our wont, the sad state of conservatism.
  • The Trials of Trifkovic

    By Thomas Fleming | September 25, 2012
    Chronicles' distinguished foreign affairs editor has a way of exciting controversy. Often the cause is his view of Islam.
  • Reaping the Whirlwind

    By Thomas Fleming | September 17, 2012
    Anti-American protests have continued to spread across the globe, though the fires of passion are predictably burning out. People do have jobs to go to, children to feed, lives to lead. Even violence-prone jihadists can't always be breaching embassies or murdering diplomats.
  • This Just In

    By Thomas Fleming | September 17, 2012
    Breaking news from CBS.
  • God and the Democrats

    By Thomas Fleming | September 07, 2012
    Christian conservatives in Florida are all het up over remarks made by Mark Alan Siegel, the Palm Beach County chairman of the Democratic Party.
  • Clint and the GOP

    By Thomas Fleming | August 31, 2012
    Poor Clint Eastwood. Like most film actors, the man is a fool, and like most entertainment celebrities, he has no idea how foolish he is.
  • The Strange Case of Julian Assange

    By Thomas Fleming | August 20, 2012
    Sometimes I don't know why I bother. What, after all, is the point to entering into any public discussion of controversial matters? Each side of the question has made up its mind before the facts are in, and the respective champions of the issue or debate are, depending on who has washed your brain, heroes or villains.
  • We're All Sikhs Now

    By Thomas Fleming | August 07, 2012
    The shooting of Sikhs at a temple in Milwaukee is generating the usual blather about senseless violence, the paranoid racialist right, and the patriotism of Sikh immigrants. I finally heard, this morning, the inevitable, "Today, we are all Sikhs."
  • Too Handsome to be Governor

    By Thomas Fleming | August 07, 2012
    The long wait is over, and President Obama can start packing his bags. Clint Eastwood has endorsed Governor Romney, and that, as they say, is that.
  • This is Not Your Grandfather's Country

    By Thomas Fleming | July 26, 2012
    Years ago, during the First Gulf War, I asked one of our editors whether he objected to the protestors who burned American flags. He replied, "It's not my flag, it's not my country." I respected his opinion, though I wondered at the time if it was not a bit extreme.
  • Poems of the Week: Edmund Blunden

    By Thomas Fleming | July 25, 2012
    Among the least remembered poets of World War I was Edmund Blunden, who lived to a miraculously ripe old age, spending some of it in Japan teaching English literature. His verse is quiet, patient, descriptive, often taking a side look at what might have been the cause of terror and grief. Here's a poem I don't recall having read before, though I have leafed through a good deal of his work.
  • Radio Day etc. etc. etc.

    By Thomas Fleming | July 20, 2012
    Today we are planning to talk about the Aurora shootings.
  • Nora Ephron Obit

    By Thomas Fleming | June 27, 2012
    I have nothing personal against Nora Ephron, but I do not understand why all the news outlets are pretending that her death is in any way significant.
  • Poems of the Week--A.E. Housman

    By Thomas Fleming | June 16, 2012
    A.E. Housman was one of the finest Latin scholars of the 20th century and one of the most distinguished classicists of the Anglo-American world.
  • Poems of the Week--More Marvell

    By Thomas Fleming | June 02, 2012
    An Epitaph

    Enough: and leave the rest to Fame. 'Tis to commend her but to name. . . .
  • Half a Cheer--or Less

    By Thomas Fleming | May 30, 2012
    Scott, the only question about Facebook is not whether or not it is evil--it most certainly is--but whether or not it is an unmitigated evil like video poker and kiddie porn or a mitigated evil like the automobile.
  • The Wizard's Medal

    By Thomas Fleming | May 30, 2012
    At last night's gala ceremony, President Obama handed out the Presidential Medal of Freedom to what is inevitably described as a diverse group, though most of the winners run to a predictable type.
  • Re: Facebook

    By Thomas Fleming | May 30, 2012
    I admit the possibility, though I have not seen any proof, that Facebook might be used as a helpful tool to survive in an increasingly inhuman world, despite the obvious reality that it is, by its very nature, diminishing the users' grasp on reality.
  • Re: Scotland's Soul

    By Thomas Fleming | May 26, 2012
    Derek, I have a silly but not irrelevant question. Is the SNP and its allies seeking total independence or merely separation?
  • Charity v. Welfare

    By Thomas Fleming | May 25, 2012
  • Fraud Upon Fraud

    By Thomas Fleming | May 24, 2012
    To add insult upon injury--and injury upon insult--the Feds are once again threatening to crack down on Foodstamp fraud.
  • Re: Re: Fraud

    By Thomas Fleming | May 24, 2012
    There is another way of applying Aaron's argument that welfare is a job's program.
  • Re: Fraud

    By Thomas Fleming | May 24, 2012
    I posted a response from one Robert--not our friend Robert--and replied to it, but despite the manifest silliness, I'll put it and my reply so that our intentions are not misunderstood. It is a good example of the incompatibility of Christianity and Marxism.
  • Re: iDocile

    By Thomas Fleming | May 23, 2012
  • None Dare Call

    By Thomas Fleming | May 23, 2012
    I've just posted a Daily Mail piece on the treason of the Pakistani physician who collaborated with the CIA.
  • Serbian Election

    By Thomas Fleming | May 21, 2012
    Toma Nikolic's victory in the Serbian presidential election has panicked the boys of the press.
  • Re: Facebook

    By Thomas Fleming | May 21, 2012
  • Poems of the Week: Marvell

    By Thomas Fleming | May 21, 2012
    Andrew Marvell wrote masterpieces in several genres of verse, from satire to love poems to the most ambitious ode in the language. While it is foolish to use words like "the greatest" of any one poet, the worth of this libidinous Puritan is beyond question.
  • Re: It's All Over

    By Thomas Fleming | May 19, 2012
  • Re: Accentuate the Positive

    By Thomas Fleming | May 18, 2012
    Bill Clinton gleefully predicted this development.
  • Re: Georgetown

    By Thomas Fleming | May 18, 2012
  • Fighter for Truth

    By Thomas Fleming | May 17, 2012
  • Poems of the Week: "Decadongs"

    By Thomas Fleming | May 09, 2012
  • Poems of the Week--the other Coleridge

    By Thomas Fleming | May 01, 2012
  • Poems of the Week: Ballads

    By Thomas Fleming | April 23, 2012
  • Leaving America

    By Thomas Fleming | April 19, 2012
    On the Daily Mail, I posted a piece under the title "The Decline of the American Empire," which I borrowed from a movie by Denys Arcand, the great Quebecois filmmaker. Since the the savage tone of piece appears to have precluded front-page treatment, I have revised it a bit for our website in the hope that it might spark a lively discussion.
  • Poems of the Week--Ben Jonson

    By Thomas Fleming | April 13, 2012
  • Poems of the Week--April 9: Conversational Verse

    By Thomas Fleming | April 09, 2012
  • Johnny, They Hardly Knew Ye

    By Thomas Fleming | April 09, 2012
    Rich Lowry, in slipping the knife into John Derbyshire's back, was surprisingly polite, confining himself to words like "nasty and indefensible." Compared to the nasty and indefensible name-calling that has been the hallmark of NR, this is almost a compliment.
  • Poems of the Week: Easter

    By Thomas Fleming | April 02, 2012
    "I saw Eternity the other night, . . . "
  • Poems of the Week: Lionel Johnson

    By Thomas Fleming | March 27, 2012
  • Lynching George Zimmerman

    By Thomas Fleming | March 27, 2012
    "I only know what I read in the papers." Will Rogers was a master ironist, and when he made and repeated this assertion, he seemed to be saying several things.
  • Poems of the Week: Satire

    By Thomas Fleming | March 20, 2012
  • Poems of the Week: March 13, 2012

    By Thomas Fleming | March 13, 2012
    Let us now have a look at the so-called Italian or Petrarchan sonnet. It was popularized by the great Aretine poet Petrarch, and early examples of the sonnet are often overt imitations of the master.
  • Poems of the Week: March 4, 2012

    By Thomas Fleming | March 05, 2012
    Let us do some sonnets this week. We can start with what are called English sonnets, as opposed to Petrarchan. It is a simple form: three quatrains of 10-syllable "iambic" lines, alternately rhyming, and a final rhymed couplet. This is Shakespeare's Sonnet 98 . . .
  • Poem of the Week: 26 February

    By Thomas Fleming | February 26, 2012
    I am going to be posting a poem a week with a remark or two to invite our friends and colleagues to read and comment. Let us begin with something short and sweet and deceptively simple, a little poem of Walter Savage Landor.
  • Books Do Furnish a Room...

    By Thomas Fleming | February 23, 2012
    A commenter on my Daily Mail Blog asked me a few questions about "modern" verse, specifically what I thought of Gerard Manley Hopkins and T.S. Eliot.
  • Gaffes

    By Thomas Fleming | February 04, 2012
    Mitt Romney now admits he "misspoke" in saying he was not concerned about the very poor. Ron Paul, one of Romney's few defenders, says that if we could look into Romney's heart we would not find that he cares nothing for poor people.
  • Iraq: Countdown to the Coming War

    By Thomas Fleming | December 19, 2011
  • Plato's Apology

    By Thomas Fleming | December 16, 2011
    After returning from my Balkan adventures, I can now return to the serious business of using Plato to teach reasoning. Let us turn to the Apology.
  • Plato's Euthyphro: Introduction

    By Thomas Fleming | November 18, 2011
    It has been a while since I posted a Booklog entry. It is not for lack of reading, on my part, but most of my reading has been either rather technical--Sicilian history, Pre-Socratic philosophy, the history of marriage--or too light to merit discussion.
  • Worst Laid Plans

    By Thomas Fleming | October 31, 2011
  • The Continuing Tory Revolution

    By Thomas Fleming | October 28, 2011
  • The End of the American Empire

    By Thomas Fleming | October 26, 2011
  • Herman Cain and Obama's 1000 Days

    By Thomas Fleming | October 18, 2011
  • Mormons and Christians

    By Thomas Fleming | October 13, 2011
  • Idling in Siracusa

    By Thomas Fleming | September 26, 2011
    Siracusa: Sunday, 25 September 2011 We've been in Siracusa since Friday evening. My wife, Christopher Check, and I, accompanied by our young friend and board member Mark Atkins, are checking out the site of our next Winter School, and there is so much to do: so many ancient ruins to check out, so many medieval churches to visit, so many dishes and wines to try out to see if they will be suitable for our guests.
  • An Open Letter to National Public Radio

    By Thomas Fleming | September 19, 2011
    Kudos to the Morning Edition staff! I have been an NPR listener almost from the beginning, and while I am constantly impressed by the errors and distortions that pepper your reporting on literature and history, I must confess that even I was bowled over by Robert Krulwich's conversation with Stephen Greenblatt on the subject of the Roman poet Lucretius.
  • Getting Real Again

    By Thomas Fleming | September 19, 2011
    Monday, September 19 The big noise is, again, President Obama's job's plan that will require a tax on the rich, the so-called "Buffet Plan." Now, I'd be ticked pink if all the Warren Buffets of America could be taxed out of their dirty business. What has Mr. Buffet ever manufactured, what has he ever done worth doing?
  • Idling, Week 2

    By Thomas Fleming | September 13, 2011
    September 11, the other Haydn, Wodehouse, and tamales: Read Dr. Fleming's latest entry on Idling.
  • From the Vault: Terrorists Target America

    By Thomas Fleming | September 09, 2011
    "Where were you when the world stopped turning . . . ?" We (Thomas Fleming, Chris Check, Scott Richert, & Aaron Wolf) were here at The Rockford Institute, fielding phone calls and watching the coverage on a TV with rabbit ears and on the web over a dial-up connection. By 1:00 PM, Dr. Fleming had finished writing his initial response, which was remarkably prescient. Here it is. —ed.
  • Idling, Week 1

    By Thomas Fleming | September 06, 2011
    I have always been by inclination an idle man, the sort who is too lazy to balance his checkbook or do his taxes until the six month's extension is almost up and even then goes to an accountant.
  • Jerks: The Natural Man

    By Thomas Fleming | August 25, 2011
    "La plupart de jeunes gens croient etre naturels, lorsqu'ils ne sont que mal polis et grossiers." La Rochefoucauld's caustic observation on the false simplicity of young people who mistake crudeness for nature tells us that the cult of the primitive antedates both Rousseau and the Romantic writers who wrought so much mischief.
  • The Ron Paul Story

    By Thomas Fleming | August 25, 2011
    The most interesting Ron Paul Story these days is the Ron Paul Story. What? It's like this. I well understand why so many disgruntled and disgusted Republicans are turning in despair to a man who probably cannot get the nomination, much less win in a general election.
  • Jerks: Cases of Arrested Development

    By Thomas Fleming | August 22, 2011
    In the new millennium, the Americans acting badly are spoiled children who have never learned what it would mean to grow up. 100 years ago, this type was already developing, and Booth Tarkington describes some of these characters in his fiction—the Penrod stories, Little Orvie, and, most effectively, the character of Georgie Minafer in the Magnificent Ambersons.
  • Bernard Mandeville

    By Thomas Fleming | August 02, 2011
    Bernard Mandeville was a Dutch physician (b. 1670 in Rotterdam), who moved to England, apparently to learn the language.
  • The Liberal Tradition I: Introducing a Few Basic Concepts

    By Thomas Fleming | July 30, 2011
    I am going to use the word "liberal" in a very broad sense to refer to the modern movement in ethics and politics that begins in the Renaissance, develops in the Enlightenment, and culminates in the classical liberalism of the 19th century. Socialism--and the other isms that have plagued European man for the past two centuries—is a byproduct of the liberal tradition.
  • Booklog: Liberal Books

    By Thomas Fleming | July 29, 2011
  • Peter Stanlis, Requiescat in Pace

    By Thomas Fleming | July 20, 2011
    Dear Friends: I am sorry to inform you that my long time friend and Rockford Institute board member Peter Stanlis has died from a combination of lymphoma and an untreatable lung disease. Peter and his wife Joan had known for several months that the end was imminent.
  • More Cheap Shots

    By Thomas Fleming | June 24, 2011
    The restoration of a McDonalds in Alabama is a signficant step in the progress of civilization, writes a prominent Misesian, who was struck with awe by the beauty of it all: "I snapped a dozen images of their newly restored interior, which is absolutely beautiful."
  • Obama's Retreat

    By Thomas Fleming | June 23, 2011
    I listened to a bit of President Obama's speech. Why am I disgusted? After all, I have said from the first day of our war against Afghanistan that it was a futile operation that might kill a lot of Afghans and a few Americans but that it would would accomplish nothing.
  • Colette Baudoche by Maurice Barrès

    By Thomas Fleming | June 13, 2011
    Maurice Barrès is hardly a name in the United States, even to American conservatives who could learn a great deal from his fiction and essays. A collaborator of Charles Maurras, Barrès had a deeper understanding of blood-and-soil conservatism than most Americans can grasp, and his celebration (in this book) of Metz under Yankee—I mean Prussian—occupation should resonate with many.
  • Cheap Shots

    By Thomas Fleming | June 13, 2011
    Lebron James really knows how to motivate a team. Unfortunately, it was not the Dallas Mavericks. Mr. James says "the Greater Man upstairs know when it's my time." Is he referring to the Almighty or to Shaquille O'Neal, who is three inches taller and once lived three floors above him? (I made that up.)
  • Jerks in CyberSpace I

    By Thomas Fleming | June 01, 2011
    Vitaly Borker thought he had found a new way of making money on the internet. On his website DecorMyEyes.com, Borker marketed cheap knock-off sunglasses as the real thing and added insult to injury by providing the worst possible customer service. As he anticipated, the tidal wave of negative comments boosted his site to Google's first page.
  • Ancien Régime: Final Thoughts II

    By Thomas Fleming | May 12, 2011
    Tocqueville has offered many insights into the origins and legacy of the French Revolution. In conclusion, perhaps, we should consider three of his main points.
  • Jerks, The Individualist, Part II

    By Thomas Fleming | May 10, 2011
    Self-made millionaires set the tone for this class, and any scholar or man of letters who has had to raise money among men of wealth and influence will see himself in Eliot's Prufrock. These poor fools have to listen, hour after hour, to Dives' tales of victories on the golf course and of his personal prowess in beating down less-able or less cut-throat rivals.
  • Jerks: The Individualist, Part I

    By Thomas Fleming | May 05, 2011
    "Who is John Galt?" I don't know, and I couldn't care less, but lots of disgruntled young people waste time on the internet asking this question, as pointless as it is pretentious.
  • Rule By Assassination II

    By Thomas Fleming | May 04, 2011
    Piecing the story together as best I can--I'll insert hyperlinks tomorrow--it now appears that a Navy Seal Death Squad was sent in with orders to kill Bin Laden unless they found him entirely naked. Unarmed, he was taken into custody and executed.
  • Rule by Assassination II

    By Thomas Fleming | May 03, 2011
    "Justice has been done," chortles President Obama and his spokespeople. "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, good bye," chanted the proles on the streets of New York. There are already T-shirts on sale saying "Obama got Osama." I am surprised not to have heard of a procession of little people in colorful costumes singing "Ding dong the witch is dead. Which old witch? Bin Laden witch."
  • Scala Jerkitudinis: The Subspecies

    By Thomas Fleming | April 26, 2011
    The Great American Jerk is a chameleon who changes colors according to circumstances, from obsequious to bullying, from pious to lewd. He may, on some occasions, display buck-waving generosity and on others check-splitting stinginess, but underneath there is always the baby boy or girl who wants what he or she wants, whether it is money, service, or just attention.
  • The Origins of the Jerk

    By Thomas Fleming | April 15, 2011
    Every human society has had its share of offensive or annoying people: busybodies and bores, poseurs and bullies, cheapskates and check-grabbers, hypocrites and egomaniacs. You might even be able to define some societies by the offensive characters they tend to produce or by the qualities they find most offensive.
  • Getting Real, again

    By Thomas Fleming | April 05, 2011
    THEY'RE BACK! No, not the demons that terrorized the Freeling family in Poltergeist II. I am referring to the far more menacing demons who are already wasting the TV lives of sports fans and Idol watchers, the presidential candidates.
  • Ancien Régime III, 1-3

    By Thomas Fleming | April 01, 2011
    In his first and vitally important chapter, Tocqueville says that true aristocracies impose their system of values on a nation, but in France the nobles permitted the philosophes to impose their ideology not only on the education of the young but also even onto the edicts of the regime which began to speak of human rights.
  • Book Diary

    By Thomas Fleming | April 01, 2011
    A few months ago I decided I would look into some rather early Wodehouse to see how he developed.
  • Land of the Rude, Home of the Jerk

    By Thomas Fleming | March 30, 2011
    There must be some reason or reasons, why the Jerk has become the archetypal American character. Without going too deep into themysteries of social history, here is a little experiment that might stand in for several hundred pages of tedious social history.
  • From the Shores of Tripoli to the Halls of Montezuma

    By Thomas Fleming | March 29, 2011
    I have so far refrained from commenting on the Libyan fiasco. I do not understand what is going on, and the administration has so far not condescended to enlighten us. We are not taking sides or deciding the future of the country--that is up to the Libyans, we say--but then declare that no outcome is acceptable unless Gaddafi is sent packing.
  • Lying in a Good Cause

    By Thomas Fleming | March 11, 2011
    James O'Keefe scored another victory recently, when his group tricked Ron Schilling, an NPR fundraiser into making statements that were soft on militant Islam and expressed contempt for Middle American conservatives. As much as I detest NPR and all its works, the attack on the fundraisers is either naive or disingenuous. Schilling may well have really believed everything he said, but some level of exaggeration and acquiescence is part of his job.
  • Spencer for Hire

    By Thomas Fleming | March 09, 2011
    Robert Spencer is making something of a nuisance of himself these days. I don't know much about Spencer. I do not spend a lot of time looking at websites and hardly ever visit Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch. It is not that I particularly disagree with him on the Muslim threat; it is only that he is a bit of a Johnny One-Note, and that note is not always sounded properly.
  • Tocqueville's Ancien Régime Book III

    By Thomas Fleming | March 03, 2011
    In the third book of his Ancien Régime, Alexis de Tocqueville takes up the intellectual origins of the French Revolution. AT notes the at first sight strange phenomenon, that in absolutist France intellectuals were free to challenge the most fundamental political, social, and religious institutions and beliefs.
  • Free Speech or Federal Tyranny?

    By Thomas Fleming | March 02, 2011
    Today's Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church has encouraged many decent conservatives to think that the United States will not so quickly go down the garden path of political correctness as Canada and the EU. I think this view is seriously mistaken.
  • When 007 is caught with a smoking gun

    By Thomas Fleming | February 22, 2011
    What do you do? The is the question that everyone should have been asking from the first news of Raymond Allen's arrest in Pakistan three weeks ago.
  • Jerks on a Shopping Spree II

    By Thomas Fleming | February 18, 2011
    The adventure begins as you drive into the parking lot. In the many states where traffic laws do not extend to private property, the lot should have a large sign: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
  • "Finally We are Free"

    By Thomas Fleming | February 11, 2011
    The cry of the protestors in Cairo, as they greet the news of the military coup that has toppled Hosni Mubarak.
  • Jerks on a Shopping Spree

    By Thomas Fleming | February 08, 2011
    Every year on Black Friday, American shoppers brave the bad weather and go out to do battle with other shoppers in a contest that will determine who pays the least for the most stuff they are better off without. Twenty years ago, the worst these victims of modern marketing had to face was long lines, high levels of frustration, and exasperated clerks. Now, they can be assaulted by angry competitors or trampled to death by a mob of Jerks with greed in their hearts and blood in their eyes.
  • L'Ancien Régime Book II

    By Thomas Fleming | January 31, 2011
    In the second book, Tocqueville tries to demonstrate a double thesis, which may be summarized as: 1) The centralized authoritarian regime installed by the FR represents continuity with the old regime, not a break with the past, and 2) there is, nonetheless a qualitative difference between the benevolent busybodying of the Bourbons and the revolutionary and egalitarian take-over of private life in the Revolution.
  • L'Ancien Régime Book II

    By Thomas Fleming | January 26, 2011
    In the first book, AT confronts the mystery of the French Revolution, which no one seemed to understand at the time and which baffled the succeeding generation. In chapter two, he makes a twofold argument, that the FR aimed neither at destroying religious authority nor at weakening the central authority of the French state. He freely concedes that the philosophes and Jacobins hated the Catholic Church, but insists that this was not a central objective.
  • Aeneid 7-12, Part I

    By Thomas Fleming | January 06, 2011
    The second half of the Aeneid has rarely delighted readers to the same extent as the first half, but the poet tells us explicitly that in bringing Aeneas to Italy he has embarked upon a greater theme.
  • Richard Holbrooke, RIH

    By Thomas Fleming | December 14, 2010
    On his deathbed in Washington, Richard Holbrooke allegedly told his Pakistani surgeon, "You' ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan." Perhaps the story is true. After all, Holbrooke, though one of the greatest liars in public life, must have told the truth occasionally and his words may even have been delivered accurately by the class of journalists who cannot give us a sports score without making a politically correct comment on race, sex, or sexual orientation.
  • Jerks II: Hard Wired

    By Thomas Fleming | December 03, 2010
    Nearly everyone in his right mind complains about cell phones going off in church or the people who shout into their phones in airports or on the plane, but those Jerks are for the most part anonymous strangers whom we shall never see again. Any attempt to correct them might backfire. But what about abuses closer to home?
  • What the Wikileaks Reveal

    By Thomas Fleming | November 30, 2010
    The USA regime will soon recover from the embarrassments created by the massive release of diplomatic documents onto the Internet. There will be investigations and prosecutions.
  • Jerks I

    By Thomas Fleming | November 29, 2010
    The Jerk is the defining character of postmodern America. What the Man of Faith and the Man of the Sword were to the Middle Ages, the Jerk is to our own age. To do justice to the American Jerk would require many volumes, answering such questions as: Were there Jerks in the ancient world? Are there Jerks in other countries or does the U.S. have a monopoly?
  • Liberty and Justice--For Jerks

    By Thomas Fleming | November 24, 2010
    Thanksgiving is the time of year when Americans are supposed to take stock and give thanks. The mere fact that we can take stock should make us grateful to be alive and conscious. This Thanksgiving, I am particularly thankful that I don't have to go anywhere by plane.
  • The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G.K. Chesterton

    By Thomas Fleming | October 28, 2010
    "In the twentieth century you could not see the ground for clever men. . . . And all these clever men were at work giving accounts of what would happen in the next age." The discussion of prophetic literature with which Chesterton begins The Napoleon of Notting Hill is itself an accurate piece of prophecy.
  • Stomping Women

    By Thomas Fleming | October 27, 2010
    This is politics in America.
  • Women's Work II

    By Thomas Fleming | October 22, 2010
    It is a feminist truism that women have always worked. By work is not meant so much the routine tasks of the household—the storage and preparation of food, the making and cleaning of clothing, and the household chores of sweeping, cleaning, and tending children—but the degraded and degrading concept of work as a job for which one is paid or even something one would not do except for money.
  • Women's Work I

    By Thomas Fleming | October 14, 2010
    It is a feminist truism that women have always worked. Even the most "patriarchal" writers have not denied the significance of a woman's work within the home. But in speaking of a woman's work or a woman's place we have to be very careful about making distinctions.
  • The Wrongs of Women's Rights III: Violence

    By Thomas Fleming | October 04, 2010
    In the Russian novel, And Quiet Flows the Don, a family feud breaks out when a young Cossack intervenes to prevent a neighbor from beating his wife to death. He suspected her of adultery, but he had been beating her systematically from the first day to punish her for being raped before getting married.
  • The Wrongs of Women's Rights II: Coverture

    By Thomas Fleming | September 29, 2010
    In the Anglo-American tradition of Common Law, the status of wives was defined by the principle of coverture, which meant that the wife's legal identity was merged with that of her husband. When Hamlet is taken to task for addressing his stepfather as “mother,” he replies: “Father and mother is man and wife, man and wife is one flesh, and so, my mother.”
  • A Nation Starting (Maybe) to Turn

    By Thomas Fleming | September 28, 2010
    A nation of 300 million souls—richest and most powerful in the world, for all its messes and perturbations—needs a turning radius wide as the future. But you know what—realization precedes intellectual assent, which precedes needed action. There's much to be hopeful about as the nation goes in for its electoral physical.
  • The Wrongs of Women's Rights

    By Thomas Fleming | September 25, 2010
    The recent decision to deploy women on submarines has been hailed as a victory in the continuing struggle to liberate women from the oppression of the domineering male sex. Conservatives have generally deplored the move, citing the inevitable sexual tensions and lowering of morale that will result from putting young males and females in such close quarters for long periods of time.